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Court Blocks St. Clair Private Right-of-Way Project

The proposal to replace St. Clair’s aging streetcar tracks with a private right-of-way was dealt a significant blow today as a court overturned the City of Toronto decision to upgrade the tracks. The process, which had passed the Ontario Municipal Board had been appealed to provincial court by opponents of the project, citing an error of law.

The judges sided with the project’s opponents through their claim that the St. Clair upgrade represented a “rapid transit project”, thanks to the fact that the streetcars on Spadina Avenue and Queens Quay were originally promoted as such. Toronto’s official plan only called for St. Clair to receive a “surface transit improvement”. A “surface transit improvement” could be deemed as having received sufficient consideration from the environmental assessment process, but a “rapid transit” line would require more than what the city provided. Despite the fact that Toronto no longer considered the Spadina and Queens Quay examples as rapid transit (and despite the foolishness of considering these projects such), the law was the law, and the TTC can no longer proceed with the reconstruction of St. Clair’s tracks with a private right-of-way in mind.

The TTC and the City of Toronto have fifteen days to appeal. More details are available from the Star.

Personal Commentary

I find it remarkable that the opponents to the St. Clair private right-of-way project (primarily Save Our St. Clair) could be so shortsighted, and it is disappointing that this project — which would have significantly benefitted the City in general as well as St. Clair West in particular, has been delayed thanks to a technicality. It is important to note that the proposal did have significant support from within the community, so portraying this as a victory for all of St. Clair’s residents and businesses is inaccurate.